Glowing Squids

photograph of a humboldt squid swimming in the deep ocean

A light in the darkness…what is it trying to tell us?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Welcome to the MIDNIGHT ZONE. Where strange creatures wander through a pitch black eternal night. But what’s that mysterious glow…?  

Benjamin Burford’s team at Stanford University looked where no one looks — in the dark depths of the ocean! They filmed groups of Humboldt squids. They observed the position, color and movement of ten squids within each group.  

What did they find? Surprise! Humboldt squids use color and skin patterns to communicate! 

When squids are hanging out with their buddies, they switch their color and start flickering. They even start flashing like neon restaurant signs! Their glowing skin sends coded messages to the world. Warnings like “Stay away from my food!”. Or competitive trash talk like “I’m gonna get that prey!”.

Decoding the language of squid can help unlock the secrets of life in the mysterious deep ocean.

Nemo and SpongeBob are notoriously chatty – but who knew that squids were such glowing conversationalists?